For Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA ) , 2014 may be best labeled as the year the company ramped up its international expansion. While the electric-car maker began its expansion abroad in 2013 in Europe, beginning with Norway, the company took it to a whole new level in 2014. The most recent country to get to drive Tesla's Model S is the United Kingdom.
The first principle in the defining values of the "Tesla Culture" is "Move Fast." The company clearly gives this tenet some serious priority.
Tesla is expanding rapidly when it comes to both vehicle deliveries and its supercharging network. In fact, getting the Model S to China in 2014 was so important to Tesla that the supply-limited company was willing to let its first-quarter deliveries decline on a sequential basis from 6,892 to 6,457 in order to fill the Asian logistics pipelines to get its first deliveries to China.
Tesla delivered the first nine vehicles to China in April and has already begun building its Supercharger network in the country. Musk has said on several occasions that his instructions to the Tesla team in China are to spend money as fast as possible on expanding the Chinese network of charging stations without wasting it.
Tesla's latest international foray is in the United Kingdom. The company delivered its first vehicles to the country on June 7. The U.K. version of the Model S marks the first time the car has been built to right-hand-drive standards.
While there is only one Supercharger energized in the U.K., Tesla CEO Elon Musk said that customers will "be able to travel the length of the U.K. for free using our Superchargers within the next 18 months."
In the press release detailing the U.K. launch event, Tesla said it is still on track for a Supercharger rollout that will enable Model S owners "to travel almost anywhere in Europe using Superchargers." The company is energizing a new Supercharger at a rate of nearly one per weekday.
Tesla's next moves?
The company's rapid expansion won't be slowing down. In its most recent quarterly letter to shareholders, Tesla said it plans to increase the number of its 2013 service stations by more than 75% to support its global growth. Superchargers are expanding even more rapidly; energizing its 100th Supercharger in April, Tesla plans to roll out 200 more globally this year.
At a minimum, Tesla is likely to concentrate its global rollout for the rest of the year on a continued push in Europe, and other right hand drive markets like Japan, Hong Kong, and Australia, according to the company's fourth-quarter letter to shareholders.
Even Tesla's factories are not bound to the U.S. Longer term, Tesla has mentioned having full factories in Europe and China, in addition to the final assembly plant it already has in the Netherlands.
While it may be costly for Tesla to expand so rapidly, the international penetration does Tesla investors the favor of keeping demand far above supply, eliminating need for advertising spend. So far, the company hasn't spent a dime marketing the Model S. And it hasn't pushed any promotions either. The day when demand could potentially outstrip Tesla's supply ramp-up is likely nowhere in the near future.
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